Monthly archives: August, 2006

The Civil War Machine- Derailed

I should have known they’d f@^% it up.

PWJ 1When I got to the comic shop today, I was met with a surprising bit of news regarding Civil War. Apparently, someone at Marvel wants to get fired. Apparently, Steve McNiven can’t draw nearly as quickly as a comic artist should be able to. And apparently, Marvel thought it’d be a better idea to put their entire line of comics on hold while little Stevie gets a chance to catch up.

WTF?!

You can read all about the situation at Newsarama (here and here), but the gist of it is this: Steve McNiven draws too slowly. He isn’t capable of completing 7 issues in a span of 7 months. And instead of having a “cheap fill-in artist” (quote Mark Millar), they’re pushing back Civil War and the closely related titles a few months. You can see the complete list here.

Here’s the thing, though: no one is buying Civil War because of Steve McNiven’s art.

As good a job as he’s been doing on the series, McNiven is not so great that they should delay the book, and several other books, to accommodate his schedule. Civil War (the event, not the series) has been a joint venture between so many creators at Marvel; it seems ridiculous to delay the whole thing because one guy can’t meet a deadline.

FF 541Civil War is not about Steve McNiven. For that matter, it is not about Mark Millar, J. Michael Stracynski, Mike McKone, Ron Garney, Paul Jenkins, Brian Michael Bendis or even Joe Quesada. It’s about the Marvel Universe. If all the hype is justified (which admittedly, it almost certainly isn’t), this is the most important story that has been told in the Marvel Universe in a decade or more. The characters are the stars of the story, not the creators. Civil War is a story that needs to be told in a timely fashion to have the proper affect. If things are happening that will change the Marvel Universe forever, you can’t put them on hold for two months.

DC knew that the same thing applied to Infinite Crisis, so they took the steps they need needed to ensure it would come out reasonably on time. Can you imagine how much of a disaster (or more of a disaster, if you prefer) Infinite Crisis would have been if it took almost a year to tell the story?

In the second Newsarama article, Bryan Hitch comes to McNiven’s defense, bringing up the point that Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns both shipped late, and both series are stronger for having accepted the delays to retain the creative teams. No one can argue that point. But Watchmen and DKR were stand alone stories. They didn’t affect anything else happening in the DC Universe, so it didn’t matter if they were late. They were both mini-series, so skipping a month wouldn’t affect sales at all, assuming fans didn’t lose interest.

Such is not the case with Civil War. Because the main series is shipping late (cumulatively two months, assuming 6 and 7 come out when Marvel says they will), Marvel also has to delay a few of its titles that are closely tied to the plot of Civil War. Frontline isn’t a problem for the same reason the delays in Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns weren’t a problem: it’s a mini-series. However, Punisher War Journal, Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man are ongoing titles. As a result of the delay, those three titles will ship 2 issues less than they should have.

Amazing 536Amazing Spider-Man was the tenth highest selling comic book in June. That’s in the same month that Wonder Woman and Flash debuted new titles, DC put out another $1 80-page comic, Astonishing X-Men put out an issue, two issues of New Avengers shipped, and both Civil War #2 and Civil War: Frontline #1 appeared. Amazing Spider-Man was the third best-selling established monthly series in June. Because of this delay, it will not ship in August and October. That’s just bad business.

Going by the June figures, Marvel will sell 113,000 less copies of Amazing Spider-Man and 78,200 less copies of Fantastic Four in August and October. Even assuming Punisher War Journal under-performs on its debut, and only lands at about #50 on the charts (that’s about the same level as Captain America and Squadron Supreme), that’s still about 45,000 copies Marvel could, but will not, be selling. Even with the conservative estimate of Punisher’s sales, that’s over a quarter of a million comics Marvel will not be selling. At the $2.99 cover price, that comes to about $700,000 worth of Marvel comic books that will not be sold because of this delay. For one month. And this is going to be two months. At least. Steve McNiven just cost the comic industry $1.5 million in revenue.

And don’t forget the advertising profits Marvel will not be making from those three titles.

Let me reiterate a previous point: No one is buying Civil War because of Steve McNiven. He is not worth the damage this delay will have on Marvel. Few artists are.

Frontline 6Bryan Hitch and John Cassaday can get away with their titles shipping late all the time for two reasons. One, their titles don’t affect any others because they’re both off in their own little universes, and are essentially limited series masquerading as monthlies. Second, they’re both really damn good at what they do. Steve McNiven is not in their league.

As for Mark Millar’s comment that he’s glad they didn’t get a “cheap fill-in artist”, I recommend the following cheap fill-in artists currently employed by Marvel:

Mark Bagley
Mark Brooks
Olivier Copiel
Leinil Yu
Salvador LaRocca
Tyler Kirkham
Scott Kolins
Roger Cruz
Mike Deodato Jr.
Brandon Peterson
Andrea Di Vito
Jim Cheung
Kieron Dwyer
Paul Pelletier
Jim Calafiore

Thank god Marvel didn’t get one of those hacks to fill in.

You can be damn sure someone is getting fired over this. This delay will have a quantifiable impact on sales. Based solely on the fiscal impact of the decision, someone needs to be held accountable.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more appalled by anything Marvel’s ever done, and I’m sure many other comic fans feel the same way. For the first time in a long, long time, Marvel looked like they were actually going to pull it off. They had managed to bring a lifelong Marvel fan back into the flock after DC had managed to drag me away because they actually were able to do what Marvel always claims they will but never does. How could any comic fan not be disillusioned by that?

Someone’s got to go.

May I make a recommendation?



Week Fifteen

Harbinger
I always thought that Booster Gold was a character with a great deal of potential. We’ve seen glimpses of it throughout the years. During the fight with Doomsday, he was one of the first to step up toe-to-toe with the monster (he was also one of the first to be clobbered into the stratosphere). Harbinger once told that green sumbitch Martian Manhunter that Booster Gold was one of the Chosen, for crying out loud (just look at the picture). She’s dead now and so is Booster. So is Booster’s old grab-ass partner Blue Beetle. Blue and Gold were always treated as something of a joke by most of the writers who worked on them, but the difference between their deaths is that Ted actually realized his potential, whereas, with Michael, well, not so much. I’ve gotta say that I’m disappointed, even though I know we’re all supposed to hate Booster because he’s selfish and quick to run out when the going “gets tough,” but I’m disappointed because I thought that after the events of the Countdown, Booster would finally get a chance to redeem himself and make a name for himself in the name of true heroism. Sure, he helped take down Brother Eye in the Crisis, but it’s not enough. Giving him one of the top spots in “52” should’ve given them an easy way to make him a heavy player. Instead, he went out like a chump.

Given the fact that I’m still compelled to buy “52” every week (and write a review of it, no less), it’s safe to say that I enjoy this series quite a bit. So, even though what I’m about to say sounds negative, keep in mind that I still am, like McDonald’s, lovin’ it. It’s just that a lot of stuff isn’t adding up in my head. The Question, although currently away on a mission, declared in the first issue that he’s the new protector of Gotham. But Gotham’s now being protected by the mysterious Batwoman. And Harvey Dent? Where is he? He should play into “52” somehow, shouldn’t he? In addition, Booster Gold and Supernova have been looking out for Metropolis in Superman’s absence. So, how come at the beginning of One Year Later, Supes has Supergirl at his fingertips? It’s week fifteen, and I feel as if these are two important issues that aren’t going to be addressed. I mean, let’s face it, if they wait nearly a year to bring this stuff up, who’s going to remember it anyway? I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast. Oh, wait, yeah I do. Jack Daniel’s and generic grape soda. Breakfast of Champions.

Oh yeah, by the way, thanks to the origin of Steel story in the back of the issue, we now know that Steel’s gonna bounce back, battle adversity, and fight “harder than ever for the good of the common man.” After last issue, they had me wondering.

The last thing I’ll leave you with is this. Ralph Dibny is insane. Booster Gold is dead. Two out of the five main characters of “52” are done dealing, folks. Let’s hear those bets on who’s gonna step it up and join the big leagues in the thirty-seven weeks to come. Oh, yeah, and this post contained spoilers.

See ya in seven.



15

In a nutshell: Booster’s back, and he hates Supernova. They fight, and Booster goes boom thanks to a nuclear sub exploding high above Metropolis (yes, that actually makes sense). Renee and The Question break out of prison. Next week, Adam and Isis make it official.

52 15It’s been weeks since we’ve seen Booster Gold in 52. What’s he been doing since it was revealed that he paid off a “supervillain” to make himself look good? Drawing beards on pictures of Supernova, apparently. Is it just me, or does that seem entirely appropriate?

I mean, what’s the deal with this guy Supernova, anyway? He’s kind of got powers like Superman, but not quite. He can fly, he’s strong, he’s semi-invulnerable, he shoots energy beams (but not from his eyes); sound familiar? How about this: a superhero that always seems to know when something bad’s going to happen, and then just happens to know the perfect way to dispose of the threat? Apparently, Metropolisians don’t learn from their mistakes. They’ve all turned on Booster Gold, but they’re willing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt just because he has the word “super” in his name? Doesn’t the power to fly through something and make it disappear seem a little far-fetched, even in the DC Universe?

So Supernova must be a supervillain in disguise, right? He’s just too good to be true. He’s playing on the emotions of the people of Metropolis since they were “betrayed” by Booster. Supernova probably even orchestrated Booster’s fall from grace to further his own agenda. And he’s the only one who would know if Booster actually died in the explosion. DC can’t actually be so cold-hearted to kill off and/or turn evil/crazy the entire cast of Formerly Known as the Justice League within two years, can they? Keith Giffen’s doing the breakdowns on 52, so they must not hate him that much, right? Yeah, Booster’s still alive.

In the B-story, Renee Montoya and The Question break out of the Kahndaq prison they’ve been held in since they were arrested last week. And it appears as though someone else decides to take advantage of the situation and break out as well. Hmmm…who does Black Adam have locked away in his prisons that might be worth foreshadowing? Tune in next week.



The Third Summers Brother and the Most Convoluted Family Ever

For years, first X-Man Cyclops had been regarded as an orphan, entrusted to the care of Charles Xavier and never really having had a home. That is, until Uncanny X-Men #54 (then just called X-Men), where his long-lost brother Alex was revealed! And Alex was a mutant! We of course know him now as Havok, but somehow Cyclops had forgotten to mention his brother until the blonde ragamuffin graduated from college, which in itself is a conundrum.

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So we had two brothers, but then in Uncanny X-Men #266, we suddenly had a character with glowing red eyes who charged cards with his eyes. A few months later, this would be ret-conned so that this mysterious character charged the playing cards with his hands, and thus we had Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit.

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Originally, Gambit was meant to be either a brother or a clone of Cyclops, hence their similarities. Claremont would get the chance to live this out in the imaginary land that was X-Men: The End.

But in X-Men #23, released in 1993, Sinister actually dropped the first hint that there was a brother that wasn’t Havok. Go ahead and read it below.

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So he drops the “brothers” bomb and go fans salivating. Of course, many fingers pointed to Gambit. But then a half-Shi’ar character appeared in X-Force Annual #2. He went by the code-name X-Treme (this was the nineties after all), but his real name was Adam.

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In X-Men #39, he would use his powers to keep Phillip Summers alive in the Alaska wilderness before they could return to safety. As Scott and Jean were in Alaska after their honeymoon, they went to visit Scott’s grandfather in the hospital, and Jean would feel a great connection between both Adam and Scott. This was because they were supposed to be half-brothers, Adam being the offspring of D’Ken and Katherine Summers.

But then came Ed Brubaker. He hinted that in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, he would reveal the Third Summers Brother, and it would have been right under our noses the whole time. Speculation abounded, especially because Claremont had confirmed Gambit out of continuity, but also because Adam had long been known to be the Third Summers brother.

Instead, we got the new character, Vulcan. Young Gabrielle Summers had been in his mother’s womb at the time Christopher and Katherine had been captured by the Shi’Ar, hence “right under our noises.” That Brubaker!

But wait! There’s more! Sinister said brothers, so potentially Adam and Gambit could still be brothers, or gen-engineered clones, or whatever. But former Cable writer Robert Weinberg had a very different idea. Namely, En Sabah Nur.

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Quoth Weinberg: “Then, in typical Marvel melodramatic style, shortly after this nameless woman gave birth to this incredibly powerful mutant child, the boy was taken from her. Stolen by a mysterious figure from the far future, a being who used a time machine to complete his master plan. Not only did this time-traveler kidnap Christopher Summers’ first child, but the traveler then took the baby back into the past and left him there. The time traveler abandoned the baby, who knew neither his father nor mother, on the burning sands of Egypt with only a name. He was called The First One, because the baby was the First Summers’ child, and the most powerful. Or as he became known in the language of those who found him and raised him, En Sabah Nur, the mutant known as Apocalypse.”

So now, we have at least four candidates, but why not more? Hell, they said brothers. Here are some of my ideas for other Summers brothers.

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Corsair himself!

Let’s just make it so he was raising his little brothers born of the real son of Phillip and Deborah Summers. Easy enough, right?

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Wolverine!

I almost posted a picture of a fat guy in a leather jacket with kitchen knives in his sleeve. Count your blessings. But really, what better way to drive up the tensions between Cyclops and Wolverine than to make it sibling rivalry?

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Onslaught!

Forget Xavier. Let’s just make it the ultra-powerful eighth Summers brother, who turned energy projection into reality warping.

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Captain Marvel!

Don’t give me that wizard bull, or tell me that he was a Fawcett character who was bought out by DC Comics. This is the plot twist of the century folks, and you’re just too dumb to realize it.

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Mark Summers!

The former host of “Weinerville” is hiding more than just a sagging career.



I noticed something

Here is disgraced Texas representative Tom DeLay.

Aside from your knowledge of Tom DeLay, does he seem familiar?

What about if I do this?



Week Fourteen

Week Fourteen
“52” has fast become one of my favorite pleasures of every Wednesday. This week’s no different, save for some small complaints I have with the cover of the issue. Simply put, the cover doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Take a quick look at it. It’s got a sweet picture of Steel holding the helmet he built for his daughter Natasha’s steel suit. In the background is the big metal Superman logo, and, well, it’s just neat. What’s weird is that the headline reads, “Steel: The Last Great American Hero.” Huh? After having read through the issue, he’s only on two pages or so, and all he’s doing is banging his head against the wall for losing his daughter to Luthor’s experiment nonsense. The other thing about the cover is how the ticker at the bottom reads, “Are you ready for the wedding of the Century!!” First of all, a question should have a question mark, and, second of all, there’s no wedding inside the issue. I assume they’re referring to Black Adam and Isis, but I’m not sure if that could be considered the wedding of the century. Methinks Princess Di would have something to say about that. Oh, wait, she’s dead, so nobody cares.

A cover hardly detracts from an actual issue, though, and this case is no different. I am friggin’ pumped to see where the Question/Montoya storyline is headed. This week, they travel to Kahndaq to look for clues about the weapons and personnel Intergang is spreading around Gotham. By the end of the issue, a meeting between Black Adam and the two snoops seems like a foregone conclusion. What will happen? Well, this is purely speculation (obviously), but there’s an interesting line about midway through this issue where Montoya monologues that, “I swear before this is over I’m gonna hold his dead body in my hands.” She’s referring to the Question, because he just got her all upset or something, but, still, that might be some not-so-subtle foreshadowing.

The other main storyline through this issue revolves around Doctor William Magnus and his tests with his old Metal Men. I haven’t really been engrossed by that story so far, so I may have missed something, but it’s still pretty cool. Here’s hoping they give Ralph Dibny something to do with this so that he can find something to bring him back from the brink of insanity, which is where we last saw him in week thirteen.

Finally, the closing has the Origin of Metamorpho. Why? Beats me. I skimmed it. He looks kinda like Super Skrull, only alive.

All in all, this issue satisfied whatever it needed to satisfy within me to make me keep itching for more. I have a feeling that next week is going to be pretty big. The “Next in 52″ thing at the bottom of the DC Nation page has Booster Gold’s goggles cracked and resting on the cement with what appears to be a splash of blood on them. If that doesn’t put butts in seats, I don’t know what will.

See ya in seven.



In two words: Bat blank

This has already been making some rounds, but over at Random Panels, comic blogger Brandon Random has found an odd panel from Detective Comics #87 and invited fellow comic bloggers to create their own alternate versions, replacing “umbrella” with whatever their imaginations come up with.

The original:

The ready-to-be-customized blank template:

My favorite version so far, from Ye Olde Comick Booke Blogge:



More fun with YouTube

This will go down as probably The Television Moment That Made Me Laugh The Hardest Ever. The State was a brilliant show that has spawned many not-as-brilliant, but still funny in their own way, spinoffs since its demise back in the mid 90s. I still long for the day that the show finds its way onto DVD.



The Civil War Machine

Onslaught- Marvel UniverseTen years ago, Onslaught tore the Marvel Universe in two. Kind of literally. After Onslaught, there was the main Marvel universe and a separate but strangely similar universe where the Avengers and Fantastic Four lived. Sort of like the Ultimate Universe without Spider-Man, the X-Men, or good stories. I was 14 at the time, and had only been reading comics for a year, but I was blown away by the company-wide crossover. It was so epic, and it seemed to change the status quo so drastically. As far as I knew, the two universes would be separate forever. Thanks in great part to the skill of Rob Liefeld, that turned out to not be the case, but at least the ramifications of Onslaught’s onslaught lasted a good 18 moths or so.

Unfortunately the same can not be said about anything else Marvel’s done in the last 10 years. There weren’t many company-wide crossovers in the late 90s and early 2000s, and even fewer that I can recall of the top of my head. Operation: Zero Tolerance was seemingly just a way to introduce Marrow, Maggot and Cecilia Reyes (and thank goodness they did!). Contest of Champions II was fun, but probably not even on most writers’ continuity radar (except for series writer Chris Claremont’s, but what isn’t on his continuity radar?). Maximum Security? I don’t even remember.

Then came Joe Quesada’s reign as editor-in-chief, and along with it came a rash of poorly done mega-crossovers that meant nothing. Avengers: Disassembled ended up as an excuse to kick all the actual Avengers off the team so Bendis could write about a team comprised of over-exposed characters and forgotten superheroes only he cares about. House of M was a way for the EIC to get rid of all those stupid mutants nobody cares about and give Wolverine his memory back. The point of Decimation was to churn out as many bad mini-series as they could to capitalize on the de-powering of all those stupid mutants nobody cares about while pissing off every Generation X fan that may still be out there. Spider-Man: The Other gave Spidey a new costume that Marvel has already said he’ll be ditching in less than a year (and in the process made certain that Colonel Doom would never buy another Spider-Man comic).

Right now, there are three mega-events running at once (Planet Hulk, Annihilation and Civil War) with one more on the way (shudder). All you need to know about Planet Hulk is he’s gonna be mad when he gets back to Earth. All you need to know (so far) about Annihilation is Quasar died, and do you really even need to know that? Onslaught Reborn will be pure crap (do I even need to justify that one?).

Civil War 2aBut you know what? I’ve loved Civil War so far. I haven’t read a single crossover issue I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed (well, I haven’t bought an issue I haven’t enjoyed;the first New Avengers issue was pretty bad). I certainly haven’t loved every idea the House has come up with, but overall, it’s been great. I don’t know exactly what it is. There are so many factors I won’t even bother going into it now (but I will in future posts). But I do know that this is the crossover I’ve been waiting 10 years to see again. Knock on wood, fingers crossed.

I leave you with this:

House of M #3 featured Wolverine traveling around the new House of M universe wondering why things are different than he remembers, and ends with the “return” of Hawkeye (the dud that was supposed to crack the internet in half), which might have been exciting if he had, say, been gone for more than six months, or y’know, stayed returned.

Civil War #3 featured a huge fight pitting the pro-registration side against the anti-registration side, including one-on-one fisticuffs between Iron Man and Captain America, and the seeming return of Thor, who hasn’t been around (or hardly even mentioned) for about two years.

Now that is a crossover.



The Power of Prayer (or netflix, wikipedia and you tube)

So I’ve decided to make the most of my Netflix account by finally adding the most excellent “Batman: the Animated Series” to my queue. And yes, the infinite praises of this show have been sung elsewhere, but I’m sure we’ll post our own thoughts on it in the Hall of Doom someday.

Anyway, I’m watching the sweet “Perchance to Dream” episode, you know, the one where the Mad Hatter has Bats trapped in a dream machine, dreaming the perfect life where Bruce’s parents are still alive, he’s CEO of Wayne Enterprises and engaged to Selina (rawwrrrrrrr) Kyle.

Then I notice something about the voice of benign pediatrician Leslie Thompkins. It sounds so familar and yet I can’t quite place it, but thanks to wikipedia I have my answer in a minute.

Thompkins was voiced by Diana Muldaur–that’s right–the same Dr. Pulaski who replaced Beverly Crusher in season two of “Star Trek: the Next Generation.” And no, I won’t answer questions about why I love STNG so much.

What the hell is my point? That also thanks to wikipedia, I found this on youtube:

It’s an animated tribute, pretty much verbatim, to the mutant fight scene in “The Dark Knight Returns” from an episode of “The New Batman Adventures.”

In conclusion, god bless the internets.